October 20th, 2009
02:29 PM ET
4 years ago

GOP officials apologize for Jewish stereotype

Jim Ulmer is the chairman of the Orangeburg County Republican Party.
Jim Ulmer is the chairman of the Orangeburg County Republican Party.

(CNN) – After his words attracted national attention and drew condemnation from a Jewish state senator, a South Carolina Republican official is now apologizing for co-writing a newspaper op-ed that described Jews as penny-pinchers.

James Ulmer, chairman of the Orangeburg County GOP, said he made a "great error" in the op-ed, which he penned along with Bamberg County GOP chairman Edwin Merwin.

The piece, which ran Sunday in the Orangeburg Times & Democrat, was meant to defend South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's position against congressional earmarks.

"There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves," the piece read. "By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation's pennies and trying to preserve our country's wealth and our economy's viability to give all an opportunity to succeed."

State senator Joel Lourie, a Democrat and one of South Carolina's two Jewish lawmakers, issued a statement on Monday rebuking the two Republicans, calling them "individuals who unapologetically espouse racist and stereotypical attitudes."

He also called on DeMint and South Carolina GOP chairwoman Karen Floyd to denounce the comments.

Floyd did so on Tuesday, calling the observation "an offensive and inappropriate comment" while also accusing critics of using the controversy for political gain. Aides to DeMint have not responded to requests for comment. (UPDATE: DeMint has also weighed in.)

The Republican Jewish Coalition also blasted the op-ed. RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks said in a statement that Ulmer and Merwin "have done a tremendous disservice to their party."

Ulmer e-mailed his apology to reporters late Monday. He said he "quoted a statement which I have heard many times in my life, truly in admiration for a method of bettering one's lot in life."

"I meant absolutely nothing derogatory by the reference to a great and honorable people," he said in the e-mail. "I hope that anyone and all who were offended by my comment will accept my humble apology."

UPDATE: Merwin added his apology on Tuesday morning.

"At this time I wish to deeply apologize for any material included in that letter that would be considered antisemitic [sic] in any way," he wrote in an e-mail to reporters and other Republican officials.

"I have always abhored [sic] in the past, and shall continue to do so in the future, anti-semitism [sic] in any form whatsoever. I concur fully with the apology offered by my co-author, Jim Ulmer, and likewise beg that any and all who were offended will accept my deep felt apology."


Filed under: Popular Posts • South Carolina
soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. Paul from Phoenix

    Here comes the left. There has been many more comments by left leaning politicians about the Jewish community the GOP could ever make.

    Not to mention the current President has basically left Israel on an island by themselves. However, here come the racist right comments.

    Ask Jessie Jackson about the Jews.

    October 20, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  2. Fools and their freedoms are soon parted

    Actually I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who "coined" the phrase that a penny saved is a penny earned....that might have been a better analogy...

    October 20, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  3. Dave C - NJ

    LOL! Wow. Aren't these guys smart enough to realize that they can't get away with saying stuff like that in this century?

    October 20, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  4. Richard

    Another red-letter day for the South Carolina GOP. Maybe they should consider succession again and this time we just let them go. Too bad they have such nice beaches.

    October 20, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  5. Kevin, Austin TX

    Wow. Not just a slip of the tongue, but a thought-out, written, re-written, edited and perhaps edited again piece of bigotry.

    Well done sir.

    Why not just say "People who are weathly"?

    October 20, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. Patrick

    Once again the RNC has proved it self to be the party of mad, derrogatory, often racist, for family values except when its their family, gay bashing white guys who only think of themselves and not others . . .

    Hey, don't get sick people and if ya do tough luck . . . . that's their plan for Healthcare Reform

    October 20, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. Leon

    ...that's a valid comparison... my homegirl is Jewish, and SHE'LL tell you that she pinches pennies. LOL... People need to relax.

    October 20, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. yuri

    It is unfair to isolate jews as stingy, since there are ample examples of misers in every ethnic community, that we know of.

    October 20, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. Francis Marion

    Come on South Carolina, you are better than this.

    October 20, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Many of us have gone down that road with various ethnic groups, it is inexcusable for all of us. HOWEVER, in keeping with the spirit of bashing and slicing the opponent, let me just say that I think it is just typical of these Repugnicants to look down their noses at someone that doesn't 'belong' to their little, teeny, teepee club. Now they can cross off the Jewish vote as well. Let's see, who does that leave as potential NEW Repugnicants to be recruited? Oooooops, NO ONE left.

    October 20, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  11. Rick

    Wow! Aren't we all pinching pennies? Congress has not and cannot get it's collective heads out..... JUST us poor folks here, once again, being screwed to the floor by ANOTHER Congress that cannot or will not get around the lobbyists and do the PEOPLE'S BUSINESS!

    October 20, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  12. Mike

    My guess is that most Jews would privately, and proudly, agree with that saying.

    October 20, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  13. George

    Just more Republican ignorance. They have nothing positive so they try to bring everyone down. What a sorry joke they are!!!

    October 20, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. Tom B

    Does the Republican party like anybody besides Christian white men? Or is this indicative of just more problems with Republicans from South Carolina?

    October 20, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. Howie

    bless his little heart.

    October 20, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. New Yorker

    WOW! Talk about twisting a comment. This guy was complimenting Jews for wisely handling money and it gets twisted into a "derogatory " comment!!

    October 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    Is there something in the water the SCGOP insists on drinking? Rampant foot-in-mouth disease, coupled with hypocritical, outright loopy and bigoted statements do not speak well of the mindset of the average South Carolina Republican. Or is it just that they are comfortable saying out loud what much of the rest of the GOP is thinking?

    Can't wait to see the tortured logic defending this last admission of how they truly think.

    October 20, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "... a South Carolina Republican official is now apologizing..."

    Good gracious! These folks talk about the POTUS being apologetic, but at least he's apoligizing for someone else's transgressions. More and more recently it seems that someone from South Cacalaakee is always putting their foot in their mouth, having an affair, calling the POTUS a "LIER" (yes, I misspelled it on purpose, you guys do it ALL the time), withholding the State's stimulus funds even though their unemployment rate is close to 12%, sending racist e-mails through gov't computers, while on the job, about our President, and on and on.

    South Cacalakee you need to get your water supply checked out. Something wrong is going on down there.

    October 20, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  19. Independent Senior in Bandon, Oregon

    I am so ashamed at the political "garbage" that is coming out of South Carolina, my ancestral home where my gr-gr-gr-gr grandfather was pastor of a Lutheran Church in Charleston for 57 years. And he was progressive for his time.

    South Carolina has slipped back to the dark ages.

    October 20, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. FALSE NEWS, NOT FAIR, NOT BALANCED

    this is typical of the G"NO"P!!!

    October 20, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  21. Phil

    I'm well aware this also follows a stereotype, but it really doesn't surprise me to hear a GOPer, and a southerner at that, make ignorant comments directed at a different ethnicity.

    October 20, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  22. Tom B

    It's a bit unfortunate when the following comment seems to be the most developed thought coming out of a South Carolina public figure in the last few years – I personally believe US Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as. And I believe that they should, our education over here in the US should help the US or should help South Africe and should help the Iraq and the Asian countires so we will be able to build up our future. – Keep smiling everyone!

    October 20, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. Black AND Conservative

    What can we do to fix the Republican party? How did the party of Abe Lincoln – the party that fought against racism when Democrats insisted on it – become the party today that projects an image of angry white men? Agreed some of it is media bias but the cause is not helped by people like this. Let's have a sweep through the rank and file and root out these guys, people – otherwise we will continue to endure the liberal lie that "all conservatives are racists".

    October 20, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  24. Stephen in NC

    I've been called a hillbilly, Opie, redneck, bumpkin etc because I'm from the South. Nobody ever apologized or even felt the need to apologize. It's perfectly natural to denigrate and stereotype certain groups, while other groups get special treatment. What a world.

    October 20, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  25. Policy Prof

    The irony in Ulmer's statement is remarkable, given that 80% of Jews vote Democratic. It is true that American Jews, on average, are wealthier than the average American. However, there is no evidence that they got this way by being "pennywise;" rather, most evidence suggest that American Jews have accrued wealth by investing heavily in education. Most Jews value education, social justice, and equality. (These aren't stereotypes, these are facts). Anyhow, for the party of intolerance to attempt to use Jewish stereotypes to justify increasing inequality and is simply perverse. That said – I'm highly opposed to earmarks as well... but the record demonstrates that earmarks were worse under Bush II than they are now. Republicans talk a big game regarding fiscal responsibility, but the records demonstrate that they just prefer to earmark and subsidize the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, insurance companies, and for the oil and coal industries rather than for education, health, the environment, and research.

    October 20, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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